A Manifesto Concerning the Proper Way to Function Whilst in a Motor Vehicle

For the Driver:

You are not a Divine Being.

Everyone on the road does not have to do what you expect them to do. Yes, there are certain manners in which drivers should behave, universal expressions of decency that we should all embrace and support. However, mental telepathy is not recognized as a legal means of expression or communication. Not everyone on the roadways is an instinctual empath, with glowing crystals aligned on their dashboard so they can receive pulses from the astral plane that will alert them to what their fellow road companions are about to do, legal or otherwise.

There are certain objectives one should meet if one has any desire to be considered a respectable driver. First and foremost, one should strive to not be a complete asshole whilst operating a land-craft. Adherence to this precept of non-assholery generally solves most problems and negates the need for eventual intervention and prosecution by civic authorities. Beyond that fundamental benchmark of decency, there are additional options one should reflect upon when reviewing their karmic status in the universe.

Use your turn signal/indicators/flashers/primitive candles in a pleasing way.

This section should not cause concern if all you want to do is stay in your current lane until the end of time. However, should the spirits speak to you in a compelling manner that cannot be ignored (perhaps you have a sudden need to inspect the adult bookstore that just whipped by in your periphery), then you should utilize those buttons or flippers right there on your steering column to alert your neighbors of the impending game change.

Do not suddenly dart across three lanes of traffic, without any warning, and then expect everyone to compose a sonnet to the goodness of your existence. There will be no songs of praise and worship, but there might be honking and demonstrative hand gestures alerting you to the fact that your approval rating is lower than Donald Trump, and that’s a trough that hasn’t been seen in America since the Pilgrims slammed into that rock in Plymouth. (Young Puritan: “Are we there yet?” Older Puritan: “Actually, yes. But whatever you do, don’t collude with the Russians.”)

Everyone on the planet does not need to hear your Spotify Playlist.

If your car is sonically vibrating from the enhanced bass of the latest song from a band that will be lost to obscurity in three days, your priorities are clearly not in order. Turn the radio down, turn your car around, and go back home so you can sue your parents for not raising you in a responsible manner. You’ll still be guilty of worthlessness, because we all own our choices, but somebody grew the tree that you didn’t fall far from, and every good farmer knows you’ve got to take care of the root rot or the whole crop will turn on you.

For the Passenger in the Front Seat:

Do not act as if you know more than the driver, even if you do.

It’s not your car. And even if it is, the mere fact that you are not in the Captain Kirk seat means that you have failed in the leadership role and you are now relegated to second-in-command, if even that. You are allowed to make pleasantly-presented suggestions concerning route decisions, but if you become overly-demonstrative about the travelogue choices then you are subject to ejection, quickly replaced by Lieutenant Uhura, who is skilled at navigating international communications, and you will never get primo seating again.

Unless we’re talking about Google Maps.

In this scenario, wherein someone needs to be checking the app to see where the heavy-red lines appear on the traffic network, you should be totally on point. The driver should not be dicking with his phone, despite many of them doing so with abandon (see above reference wherein drivers misperceive their god-like status). You should not wait to be asked to check the app. You should be all over that app at the first hint of traffic malfeasance, scrolling diligently to find the clearest route to the methadone clinic.

That glovebox does not have your name on it.

Don’t go messing around in there unless you are requested to do so, sent on a mission for a napkin or an antacid tablet after lunch at Uncle Bucky’s Burrito Bar. None of the clutter in the little concave is any concern of yours, especially if it involves surprisingly-small condoms or a greasy pair of handcuffs. It’s just like the nightstand in your parents’ bedroom. Do not ever open that unless you want your world to change.

Do not screw with the temperature settings.

It doesn’t matter if you are too cold or too hot. Your comfort is of no concern. It is imperative that the driver of the vehicle finds a happy place. Otherwise, turn signals might not get used and everybody might end up in a Turkish prison.

The armrest between the front seats only has room for one ego.

This is not the Oklahoma Land Rush where, if you are the first to claim it, you get 640 acres and a free mule. You have no stake in this situation. Cede all desires to the driver and let him or her set the terms of the negotiation. Many traffic violations are the result of somebody’s elbow being where it shouldn’t be. Don’t be that elbow.

 For the Passenger on the Left Side of the Back Seat:

If you kick the back of the driver’s commandant chair more than once, you will be thrown to the wolves without any regard for your welfare. Once is understandable, what with the new surroundings and the excitement of the adventure and whatnot. Twice is unforgivable, so, unless you speak Lupine, don’t take the chance.

For the Passenger in the Middle of the Back Seat:

The court will grant you some leniency, in that you apparently lost the back-seat lotto and ended up with the center position that nobody wants. Still, once ensconced, one prerogative becomes foremost: Do not block the rear-view mirror. The driver might try to be polite and indicate that his or her vision quest is not affected. But let’s be real. Your ginormous head, no matter how cutely coiffed, is a survival-affecting roadblock. The best thing you can do is lean forward in a semi-prone position and stay there until you’ve arrived at Granny Mae’s Bait-Shack and RV trailer park so you can all load up on scratch-offs and a vat or two of moonshine.

For the Passenger on the Right Side of the Back Seat:

Don’t you dare think of touching any of the fancy buttons on your door. Yes, they are right there, wanton and tempting, but any change in atmosphere that you might trigger by rolling down your window or screwing with the lock settings will only lead to severe accusations and potential custody battles. It’s not worth it. Just stare out the window and yearn for eventual release.

For the Urchin Offspring Forced to Reside in That Far-Back Cargo Space Just Because They Are Small, Even Though Said Space Does Not Proffer Actual Seating or Comfort:

It gets better. Okay, that’s a lie. But such is the way of life. It’s best that you learn now how everything we dream about all comes down to who is driving and who plots the journey. Make sure you are eventually at least one of those people.


Previously published, with modest tinkering for this re-release.

On said previous post, several folks were rather inquisitive of the opening photo. I started to compose a lovingly-detailed post-script explaining the origination of such, but I’m a bit pressed for time at the moment. Precisely 4 minutes and 37 seconds ago, I suddenly decided that I am completely OVER every mask in my arsenal of protection against the belligerent twit-licks who refuse to get vaccinated for political reasons and have turned Texas into a completely-avoidable cesspool of infection. (I’ve worn each mask at least 700 times, even the one with the “Whataburger” logo, and I need to update my couture by scouring the internet for fresh visions.)

As such, I’ll just go with my response to the delightful Barb Taub on that previous post:

As DC correctly points out later in the comments, this is an art piece known as “Cadillac Ranch”, located just outside Amarillo, Texas. I took this snap (among others) when Partner and I stopped by on a road trip to Pecos, New Mexico last September. The ten cars represent the style-progression of the Cadillac through the years. The graffiti aspect came later, and it was actually encouraged by the artist as part of a statement about America…

And there you have it.

Cheers, Part Deux.

44 replies »

  1. All valid points. However, our last trip as passengers in a seven seater People Mangler had me thinking the family in ‘Little Miss Sunshine ‘ had it easy. You can only do so many miles praying to the God Of The Woebegone Passenger and crying quietly through clenched closed eyes while your hands clutch your crotch. If the ‘driver’ can make you car sick by veering from and over the centre line and the faded road edge line while riding the throttle because ‘you don’t need cruise control when I’m in control,’ it might be time to bail out at the next rest stop/inconvenient store and wait for a bus or risk hitching. Just because someone believes they’re fit behind the wheel- despite being generously girthed but with a sloppy grip on both reality and the wheel- doesn’t mean intervention or carjacking doesn’t spring to mind. Believe me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1. I have never seen “Little Miss Sunshine”. I know this makes me incomplete, but I will persevere, somehow…

      2. I’m actually a very good driver, obeying all known traffic regulations with an intense precision. This, of course, means that I rarely speed, and therefore 90% of my friends and family think I’m an old geezer that shouldn’t be on the roads and should be in a elder-care facility.

      3. I’m also a good passenger, as I wrap myself in a cocoon of denial and stare intensely at my phone the entire time, so as not to notice that 90% of my friends and family are abysmal drivers who could kill us all at any moment….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My middle son and wife used to put me in the Far Back Cargo Space because the Urchins had to be in car seats. Recently they started giving me the front seat and doubling up on laps in the back seat. Either I am sick/old or they are worried about the example they were setting for their own kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Obviously, I don’t know the intricate mental workings of your family members, but I’m going to guess that the correct answer is the second one concerning “the example”. Some folks will happily be not so nice until one day they look in the mirror, see the budding wrinkles, and think “uh oh”…


  3. As a woman of a certain age who has been hot and wilted for over 10 years, I have to protest to temperature rule. But only if I am the passenger. Don’t you dare touch those controls if I am driving. Hypocritical yes… but this bitch needs to survive.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think it’s fair to say that we are all hypocritical about one thing or another. It’s simply human nature. And for the record, I’m here to confirm that, as an older man, I have my own heated moments, wherein I go from calm, cool, collected and polite to a dripping-wet banshee who can set things on fire just by touching them. Ain’t metabolism great?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. About this “turn signal” thingy. I always called them blinkers, because they…blink…or dinkers, because they went “dink…dink.” The ones on my car are silent.
    The few times I venture out, I am constantly amazed by how many relatively new cars evidently came from the factory, missing said blinkers/dinkers. Many a time I have “thanked” drivers in a most unladylike fashion for letting everyone know that they are going to turn.
    I remember my mama using hand signals. Today…it might get you killed…or worse…shot. She’d extend that left arm out the window and with her unusually long fingers, point left. If she was turning right, that arm was crooked and that finger would be scraping the clouds. Slowing down or stopping was a feat in that her outstretched hand would be almost touching the pavement. Ah…the good old days.
    I am a faithful blinker/dinker. I even catch myself using them when I turn out of my own driveway. Even if there is no one else on the road, I still use them. What’s wrong with me?!
    As far as the other things, I rarely, if ever, allow anyone in my car. I spent so many years hauling around children…my children and other peoples’ children. I guess I’m a little selfish now. And one thing is for sure….you had better not touch my radio! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m annoyed by a lot of things on the road, but it’s fair to say the one thing that will set me off instantly is dumbasses who don’t use their dinkers. It’s simple, common courtesy. If you can’t figure that out, don’t leave your house.

      I also dink every time I turn, even on a deserted road that no one else has traveled since 1972. It’s instinct. And yes, there have been many times when I caught myself dinking into my own driveway. Not often, but enough to confirm to my neighbors that, yep, that boy crazy.

      I remember those hand signals. Back in my urchin days, when I rode my bike EVERYWHERE, I would use those signals when peddling on an actual street with real traffic. My friends thought I was an idiot, which is perhaps not far from the truth, but I did it anyway…

      Interesting tidbit about me and the radio: When I’m in the car, I generally DON’T have the radio on, unless it’s a long road trip. It’s my “thinking time” when I work on new stories in my head. So when other folks are in the car and they pester me about the lack of music, they’re instantly already on my nerves. And then they start messing with the stations? I start having very dark thoughts…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t play the radio anymore. I listen to the music on my phone, of course, interrupted constantly by my British speaking Siri, with directions. He doesn’t always get it right. He almost made me wreck once when I was simply asking for someones’ address. He quickly said, “getting directions to I’ve just passed out.” LOLOL

        Liked by 1 person

  5. 🤣😂😜😆😆😆 Lordie. Now I realize that I’m one of those ‘original’ readers of this lovely set of ought to be made mandatory ‘rules’. I know I probably commented a novel’s worth on that original post too. So I’ll satisfy myself with one or two anecdotes and observations from the non-driver’s seat.

    1. Do not attempt that darting across three crowded lanes of rush hour traffic when there are semis (big rigs) involved in the tangle. You WILL lose because science doesn’t give a shit if you think you’re the best driver ever born and ought to be given free reign to drive how and where you will without question. Your SUV, 4X4, sedan of bulkiness, or any other reasonably sized car will LOSE the battle with a 25,000 to 35,000 empty, 80,000 loaded down big ass truck. You will probably die.

    My deceased hubby drove those big trucks for 35 years and he told me the following story once when trying to illustrate why that whole dart thing is a bad effin’ idea. He was driving north out of Salt Lake City past a mini-city called “Bountiful”. I-15 is a mighty river but it is inadequate to handle the hoards of humans who now call Utah home who all have to be north somewhere in the morning to earn their bread, and south somewhere when that old whistle blows and lets them know to stop working.

    So the wise big truck driver probably goes about 5-10 mph, inching along so they don’t squash the idiotic driver who thinks squeezing in front of a big ass truck in rush hour traffic because that truck “surely can stop in time” is a good idea. One of the squirrel people who like darting in and out of such traffic, trying vainly to find that one lane that’s actually moving, pulled into hubby’s lane right in front of him. The squirrel guy was in a Honda Civic or some really small sub compact. He landed right in front of the grill of the big ass truck and hubby said it was hilarious because squirrel boy took one look at that big grill looming right in his face (because he was darting to the left and his driver’s side was exposed to the oncoming carnage) and his eyes got really huge and he immediately skipped in front of the next lane over and a smaller vehicle. Hubby said he didn’t know how the idiot wasn’t crushed because he did cut it that close.

    I said “Natural selection at work is all that was.” and hubby said “Yeah, but I didn’t want to be picking bits of that idiot out of the grill for three months either and I’m glad he got away.

    I still bet that squirrelly lane skipper drove a lot more safely going forward though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • First, this comment is hysterical. Of course, I’ve long since learned to expect such from you, so I’m not surprised. Just sharing.

      Second, that “darting” mess? Ugh. It makes me crazy. Further up in the comments, I babbled with Laurel about how people who don’t use their blinkers was my number one pet peeve, driving-wise. But now I’m changing my answer. It’s those damn darters, zipping across multiple lanes with no hesitation. There isn’t any possible way they can assess all lanes at all times, so they are completely dependent on everyone else accommodating their dumbass doings. If it wasn’t for the fact that, generally, most folks on the road are decent, the darters would all be dead. Darting is a perfect example of the rampant self-indulgence that is now a trademark of modern society.

      Still chuckling over your hubby story. In fact, if you’ll allow me to paraphrase, I think “Picking Bits of Idiot out of the Grill” would be a PERFECT title for a short-story collection concerning useless people doing useless things. Naturally, most of the stories will be set in Oklahoma… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Feel free to use it at any time! It’s frightening how certain parts of the ol’ U.S. of A. has folks who could legally be called ‘idiots’. Factually and scientifically they ARE. I blame it on in-breeding ‘cos we all know wimmen was scarce in the old “West” and that’s why some sheep still looked scared…. 😉 They populate an equal portion of Utah too, which I do believe we’ve remarked on before. Those horny old goats of great grandparents and all…. 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Having just returned from a road trip, I can say we handled it well by each driving our own vehicle. There was a reason, but it still prevented any issues brought about by annoying passengers who don’t know their status..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I think that’s a fine stratagem. Whenever our big-ass family decides to go on a joint road trip, creating a caravan of mania, I do my best to convince everyone to ride with someone else. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, there is peace in my heart… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m just glad that the next adventure he is contemplating has us both riding in the same vehicle. I’m hoping I have done all the long haul driving for the summer I need to. Which brings the peace to my heart. People are crazy out there and seem to think that being in a vehicle makes them indestructible.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with most of these, especially the turn signal part. Traveling in a metal box with explosive fuel, surrounded by dozens of similar devices, is no time to be a man or woman of mystery. Tell people what you plan to do, then do it. Also, you are entirely correct that the driver gets to set the temperature of the vehicle. Also the soundtrack music. Preferably also the seating arrangement. Put the shortest person in the middle of the back seat. Apologize later.
    On our way back from the Great American West, I saw a group of people looking at the art assembly in your banner photograph. Given that I was moving down the road at the speed limit, I didn’t see the art; just the people parked on the access road looking at the art. It was a thrilling three seconds. J.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just don’t understand the folks who don’t understand why they can’t take one second to think of others and activate their signal. How blindered ARE you? Sheesh.

      Yes, the driver should determine the atmosphere, both temperature-wise and sonic-wise. And the passengers should refrain from sharing their adverse thoughts on the matter. As a passenger, don’t you WANT the driver to be happy and non-distracted? In my mind, survival-of-the-journey trumps personal comfort. But I do need to work on that seat assignment thing. I don’t always remember to do so until it’s too late and everyone is already bucked up and ready to complain about me playing 70s singer-songwriter selections on the radio.

      If you ever get the chance, the Cadillac art assembly is worth a visit. It’s nothing extraordinary or life-changing, but I really enjoyed the short time that we spent there. The concept behind the piece is fun to contemplate, making the statement it does about consumerism and society and (I think) misplaced values. And the graffiti? It actually enhances the statement, as the layers of paint are so rampant that the sprayings are several inches thick…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I would say that my similar memories are also unwelcome, after a certain point in my childhood. (When you’re very young, you really don’t care about the environment of the trip, you’re just happy to be on one.) But there was never a canoe in the mix, and I feel like I may have missed out on something with that discrepancy… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. When I was a kid, the middle seat was always over a very uncomfortable hump beneath which was some axle or whatnot. I always got relegated to it because my grandmother was old and my brother was spoiled. My only rule is if you drive my car, do NOT change the radio stations around. Ken used to do that despite my protests until one day I snuck into his SUV and reprogrammed all his stations in all the menus to the same country station. He couldn’t fix it on his own and we developed an understanding.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a practical way to get your point across! Unremitting Tammy ‘Stand By Yer Mayn’ or a passel of Keth Ursine, Tom T. Small and Toby Grief should be punishment enough. I’m sure its lesson learned and channel changer unturned now.

      Liked by 2 people

    • What WAS that hump all about? To me, it felt like it was related to something important, and perhaps it was not best that I be sitting on it, especially since I was rather chunky for the first decade of my life. One would think the parental units would designate a lighter offspring to straddle the hump, but no, it was me. And then I would get yelled at because my ginormous head was blocking the rearview. (I can’t help it! It’s the only head I’ve got!)

      As for the reprogramming of radio stations, you have certainly inspired me. I’m plotting away as we speak, intent on a nocturnal mission. I’ll keep you posted…

      obbverse: Love the twists on the singer names, especially “Toby Grief”. That man is assuredly a wart on the hog of life…

      Liked by 2 people

  9. It is WAY worse to be the person on Google Maps-duty. I don’t own a smart phone so I hold the driver’s phone like it is a mouse trap and, inevitably, the app disappears or turns sideways or starts a fire…


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